Per Gessle – Gessles nio i topp – Nine songs about sweets

In the latest episode of Gessles nio i topp, Per Gessle and Sven Lindström are talking about sweet songs. Sven says Sweets for My Sweet from The Searchers should have been No. 1 on the list, but rumor has it, there is something else on the top. Per grabs his list and says he can’t even see that song on it. Honey from Bobby Goldsboro is also not bad, there was a Swedish version of it, Raring by Björn Ulvaeus, but it’s not on the list either. Per rather chose old songs from the ’60s and ’70s.

Per’s Top 9 songs about sweets

9. Millie Small – My Boy Lollipop
8. The Rubettes – Sugar Baby Love
7. Marcy Playground – Sex And Candy
6. The Velvet Underground – Sweet Jane
5. The Strangeloves – I Want Candy
4. Lynsey De Paul – Sugar Me
3. Echo & The Bunnymen – Lips Like Sugar
2. The Kinks – Sweet Lady Genevieve
1. The Archies – Sugar, Sugar (medley with Wilson Pickett’s version of Sugar, Sugar)

My Boy Lollipop from Millie Small was a mono release in 1964 when Mr. G was only 5 years old. It was one of the first ska songs. Per remembers he saw Millie on Swedish TV, maybe on Hylands hörna and Swedish radio also played MBL. It’s an awesome song still today. Millie passed away not so long ago [5th May 2020]. Sven mentions she didn’t receive royalties for this song which he can’t understand. The original version was recorded in New York in 1956 and record company executive Morris Levy purchased it and listed himself as one of the authors of the song. When John Lennon did Come Together, Morris Levy sued him because of using a line, ”Here come old flattop” from Chuck Berry’s You Can’t Catch Me. As penalty, John recorded three songs from Levy’s publishing catalogue for his Rock ‘n’ Roll LP. MBL was the first hit for Chris Blackwell, founder of Island Records. Sven adds that Blackwell bought records in New York and sold them to DJs in Jamaica after he recorded them on tape. When Millie came into sight, he found the recording of the original version of MBL and that’s what they recorded in Millie’s version. After playing the song, Per and Sven are discussing who played the harmonica on this one. Per says it was Rod Stewart as Millie also told about it in an interview, but Sven says it was Pete Hogman. It stays a mystery why it wasn’t clear who played the harmonica.

Sugar Baby Love from The Rubettes is next. Per thinks it’s a guilty pleasure song, a one hit wonder, but it’s damn good. The falsetto voice is awesome in it. Mr. G has the single, he bought it in 1974 when it was released. Sven tells ”Bop-shu-waddy” is being sung over the whole song and Per presents it by singing it two times. Everyone told the songwriter it won’t work to sing ”Bop-shu-waddy” for 3 minutes, but the more people said that to him, the more convinced he was doing it that way. 6 million copies were sold of the single. Per tells the guys who wrote this song wrote another awesome hit, Nothing But A Heartache for The Flirtations in 1968.

Per picks Sex And Candy from Marcy Playground from the ’90s (1997), to have a modern song on the list too. Marcy Playground is a band from Minneapolis that was at the same record company as Roxette. The song has a psychedelic aura which Per thinks is appealing. Sven says he likes a lot of ’90s songs and it was a phenomenal decade. Mr. G says there was a natural development of pop music. Technology advanced and it sounded different, but Sex And Candy is still a very good song. Sven adds it’s innovative.

Sweet Jane from 1970, from The Velvet Underground’s fourth album, Loaded comes next. Sven asks Per if he listened to The Velvet Underground back in the days. Per tells he had an album, he can’t remember which one it was, it had a black & white cover and Pale Blue Eyes was one of the songs on it. It was a very strange album with very good songs. Mr. G says he discovered Lou Reed on his live album, Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal. Sven says it was the same with him. Until Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal Lou Reed was just a name for him, but he was fascinated by that album. Per says Sven probably heard Walk On The Wild Side from the Transfomers album. Mr. Lindström didn’t have it, but he heard it on the radio. Per is kidding Sven and acts like he is surprised that they had radio in Växjö. Sven laughs and says they had pirate radio. The Velvet Underground was present in the arty New York scene during the Andy Warhol era. Sven says they were style makers and went their own way. The guys agree that at the age of 13 they were not matured enough for that. Sweet Jane is a phenomenal song according to Per. There are several live versions released of it, but the original is on the album, Loaded.

Song No. 5 is a real dynamite hit, I Want Candy from The Strangeloves from 1965. Among others, it was also covered by Bow Wow Wow in 1982. Per thinks The Strangeloves was a great band, they had several good songs, e.g. Night Time. Richard Gottehrer, who was part of the band formed Sire Records together with Seymour Stein. He produced Blondie’s first album and Marshall Crenshaw’s debut album too. Before forming The Strangeloves, the 3 guys were writing songs for other artists, girl group acts included. The girl group sound was going out of fashion due to the British Invasion style, so the guys decided to form an own beat group. They couldn’t fake British accent, so they pretended to be Australians. Per tells one version of Hang On Sloopy was on the same album as IWC. Per finds the Bo Diddley beat quite cool in IWC and tells that they also used the beat in Roxette’s Harleys & Indians.

After the song is played, the guys get back to Bow Wow Wow and are talking a bit about their debut album. It had a very strange title, See Jungle! See Jungle! Go Join Your Gang Yeah, City All Over! Go Ape Crazy! Sven asks what a record company can say when you come up with such title. Per says he doesn’t know. They laugh.

Sugar Me from Lynsey De Paul is next. Per says he bought the single when it was released on MAM Records. Lynsey De Paul was a singer-songwriter and it was she who wrote and also produced the song. Mr. G mentions Lynsey took part in the recording of one of the best pop songs of all time, Roll Away the Stone from Mott the Hoople. She is the one who is whispering ”Well I got my invite” on the album version. There is another story related to Mott the Hoople. When new guitarist, Luther Grosvenor joined the band, Lynsey De Paul suggested to change his name to Ariel Bender. Per says he saw them on their farewell tour last year in London and Ariel Bender was wearing quite tight pants that left nothing to the imagination. The guys are laughing. Sven tells they had their 40th anniversary reunion in 2009 and then he saw them in London. Lead singer Ian Hunter is still fantastic, the guys say. Getting back to Sugar Me, Per says one gets hooked immediately because of the piano intro. He thinks it’s very special.

Before talking about the Top3 songs, the guys mention two more that could have been on the list, Pour Some Sugar On Me from Def Leppard and Sugar Town from Nancy Sinatra. These didn’t make it, but No. 3 is Lips Like Sugar from Echo & The Bunnymen. The band is from Liverpool. Per thinks this is their best song and Sven says they broke through with this one. It’s very typical of the time, 1987 music (U2, Simple Minds). Mr. G thinks the song is a bit too long, but the chorus is awesome and they could have get to it a bit earlier. Sven reacts maybe ”Don’t bore us, get to the chorus!” was inspired by that. Haha. Per informs that the cool video to the song was directed by Anton Corbijn.

No. 2 is Sweet Lady Genevieve from The Kinks. The band is a favourite both for Per and Sven. Mr. G says that at the beginning, The Kinks were not an album band at all, rather a hit factory. Ray Davies was writing big stories and in 1973 they released Preservation Act. There was Preservation Act 1 and 2, the latter one was a double LP. The first one was a fantastic album according to Per. If you are looking back at the ’60s, Ray is definitely one of the best songwriters of that era. Sven says there is something disarming in his style. Per adds he started with songs like You Really Got Me, 3-chord riffs and he had his style, but he also left his style. Sweet Lady Genevieve is one of Per’s favourites from The Kinks, it’s absolutely magical. Sven asks Per as a songwriter what he thinks the magic is in this song. Mr. G says the magic lies in the complete song, in Ray Davies’ voice, in his expression, the whole story and the sound. It sounds how only The Kinks can sound. They had their own studio, Konk Studios. If you look at albums from before digital times, they sounded in a certain way (e.g. Olympic Studios). The Konk Studios sounded differently. It’s hard to do it these days when everything is digital. It sounds the same if you make songs on your laptop or e.g. in Ocean Way Studios in Los Angeles. Sven jokes and says it would be cool to have a Konk plugin.

No. 1 is Sugar, Sugar from The Archies. According to Per it’s one of the absolute best songs that has ever been written. The Archies is a cartoon band that featured in an animated TV series in the US. The song was written by Jeff Barry and Andy Kim. Per says Andy Kim had an own hit, Rock Me Gently which was a big hit in the US. Jeff Barry worked together with his wife, Ellie Greenwich and Phil Spector. They wrote together e.g. Da Doo Ron Ron, River Deep – Mountain High. Sugar, Sugar was released in 1969. No one really knew who The Archies were, but Sven says they found out 2 older gentlemen were involved. One of them, the guitarist was born in 1922, which was unusual in the ’60s pop world, to have a 40-year-old guitarist. Per says it’s real, sugar sweet bubble gum music. Sven first thought it was The Archies who invented the bubblegum pop genre, but he realized it was Ohio Express a bit earlier with Yummy Yummy Yummy and Per adds Simon Says by the 1910 Fruitgum Company was also an early bubblegum success. Sven asks Per if he says Sugar, Sugar and soul, what Mr. G thinks about. Per says Wilson Pickett. He did a soul version of the song which is fantastic. So the guys play a medley of The Archies’ and Wilson Pickett’s versions as the last song in the sweet podcast.

Real Sugar pic of Marie & Per by Jesper Hiro